Anser Journal


By Magi Sumpter

Keep your twos under your pants leg. They’re your wild cards—don’t let anyone see.
And Great-grandmother winked and stomped her withered talons before taking a seat across
from me at the table. I shuffled a deck,
shuffled a deck,
shuffled a deck,
and beside me, my grandfather shuffled a deck,
shuffled a deck,
shuffled a deck,
My mom, stepfather, grandmother, whichever girlfriend my uncle brought over this time,
each one of them
shuffled a deck.
And then we drew cards, twenty-two of them, and
Great-grandmother drew the conversation to her as I forced the twos to the top, drew four more
cards than I was supposed to, and slid my victory under the leg.

With a snipe, Mama called me out. I drooped my head and stripped myself of the crown.
I shuffled
again and picked up my twenty-two, counted aloud one two three four five, so on,
only barely noticing the smirk on Great Grandmother’s face as her hand grew larger in the

I toss my shirt haphazardly on top of my cellphone. Sigh breathily to disguise the buzzing,
where r u?
the buzzing,
i miss you <3
the buzzing.
call me soon pls

He runs his hands down braille arms, rests his fingers inside hand-painted indents stretching
taut against my hips. You’re so beautiful, he says, why haven’t we done this before? as my
chain sits on the sofa at home unshackled, pirating Miyazaki movies and drinking a cup of
coffee with hazelnut creamer.

I clock his gaze upon my bare breasts: hooded eyes blinking quickly, slight glance to the left
(the bigger one), a nearly-imperceptible ahem in the back of his throat. Since my inauguration
into the secret society of hand and foot twelve years ago, I picked up on the cues. To have
thought of everything, you’d think he’d be a better teammate. Call his bluff and moan louder.

park your car on the sidewalk.
The buzzing,
i’ll turn off the security camera so she can’t see us.
the buzzing,
don’t let anyone see.
the buzzing stirred the chain in his slumber. He rolled over, who are you talking to, oh a friend
from high school wants to have dinner tonight, okay I love you (then kissed me on the nose), I
love you too with a slight glance to the left.

I strip myself for the crown. He threads ten fingers through my hair.

I return home. Babe where are you, in here darling, whatcha been up to, nothing just watching
totoro again how was dinner (then I kiss the chain on the nose). My hair rests atop my head,
each strand laid perfectly in place.

Great-grandmother laid her last card on the table, the same sly smile plastered on her
face. We won, she proudly announced to the family, and y’all saw. We played fair, didn’t we?
Her oft-dull eyes twinkled in my direction, and my phone buzzes
can we do this again?
buzzes in my pocket.
Yes, of course.

Magi Sumpter is a part-time paralegal, part-time college burnout situated in West Monroe, Louisiana. She is currently finishing her BA in Political Science, all the while attempting to immortalize her brief existence on this earth. You can find her on Twitter at @MagiSumpter.